Getting a good exposure for a video is CRITICAL to great looking shots that need little post production work. So we are going to cover how to do this with a grey card and where you can get them for free.
For those that do not know these are cards, or pop outs that are 18% grey on a scale between white and black. What you do with one is take a camera that you can lock off the exposure or F-stop on, point the camera at the grey card, fill the frame with the card and manually set the exposure for the shot off of this card. This will help make sure that the whites are not over exposed and you don’t loose the shadow information in the darks or blacks by establishing the right exposure.
It will also stop the camera from auto adjusting the exposure during the shot which is a hallmark of amateur video that you as a DV Rebel, do not want. This is a really basic summary of what the grey card does. However, this is a blog on how to scavenge, pillage, borrow, and make DV gear, not a lesson on how to shoot. So, I’ll leave these details to the experts.
These links below are some great explanations on what this whole grey card thing is for your grey matter! See what I did there?
Related grey cards to your brain and how they are both grey and how that is ironically funny cause…
Never mind my humor is lost on most… so on to the links:
Izzy Video ‘Getting good exposure with a 18% grey card’ NOTE: if you like this video you should seriously consider buying a subscription to Izzy’s site the content he has is second to none. You should click and subscribe here through my affiliate link.
Or, you could get the DV Rebel Guide. My favorite book on film making on a budget. It’s the best info on what all this grey card and exposure stuff means to the DV Rebel, what is IMPORTANT and what to do with it. This is all contained in the camera chapter in the DVD at the back of the book, so don’t buy a second hand one without the disk. Better yet, buy it from my amazon affiliate link by clicking on the book cover off to the left.
The need it now cheapest solution is to use the palm of your hand. By putting your palm in the light where you will be shooting. Zooming in on it to fill the frame and locking the exposure is a quick, dirty and instantly accessible way to fake a grey card. Unless of course, you don’t have a hand because it has been chopped off by your dad….like Luke Skywalker.
You have looked at the links above to explain grey cards right? If you haven’t then all of this probably makes little to no sense, so go back and click on the links and read the articles. The problem with this is depending on your nationality and or skins pastiness due to geeking out in your moms basement for the last few years has a tendency to be not all that accurate. As well, it may also mean depending on your genetics, that you have a very small grey card because of small hands. A small hand is hard to get in a full frame of the viewer when zoomed in. So, on to the better free grey card.
The super cool free is from a laminate flooring shop 18% grey card. It comes in the form of a free sample with free shipping and you can get it in sizes from 2×3 inches to 8×10 inches. Now while you are at it get a black card and a white card to use them for calibration targets to make post production much much easier (Read the article from Knick-Knack on how to make use of all of these). The added bonus of these cards is they are also easy to clean unlike the pop out card I threw into my duffle that got filthy and just will not clean up.
Let me know of any freebies or solutions you have to a grey card.